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Beyond Perspective: Scenic Space in New Italian Theatre Antonio Attisani In the seventies, thousands of people began to work in the theatre, for widely different motives, a circumstance which brought about an overabundance of goods in the marketplace. One of the effects of the social movements and cultural politics of the period was to create a temporary and artificial audience. So, even the Italian theatre experienced inflation. The last few theatrical seasons, however, have seen the beginning of a new phase. A superficial and hurried analysis points to a decreased demand for a persistent output, the necessity to return to pre-1970 production levels, and a return to tradition-as if today's audience were that of a decade ago. The scene has changed very much, yet the necessary and painful reconstruction is not a unanimous sign of a return to conformity. Instead, the theatre must face up to its diminished position (reduced spectacle in a society based on spectacle) and look for its new specific character in the world of electronics. In the last decade, an irreversibly new factor has emerged, even in Italian theatre: the groups. There have been hundreds. Now there are ten or so and among them are some who have achieved a very high level of work, in some cases, with a certain amount of international recognition, while others are not yet as known as they deserve to be. What is needed today is not so much a defense of groups; many have already been recognized and have survived without institutional help, and 31 their continued existence is no longer in doubt. It is more important to understand the ways in which a cultural creativity manifests itself, and to work for a climate which will nurture such manifestations. After following the discussion in PAJ 22 on BAM's Next Wave [1983], it seems to me that the problem has arisen in an analogous way in every country . Festivals and other cultural "macro-institutions" are far from the original production spaces. They limit themselves to involving only those who have already won themselves a role, each time inventing anew the criteria for choice and promotion-in the case of the BAM festival, a somewhat artificial "interdisciplinarity"-destined to make those events seem heralds of the new instead of what they really are, creators of common spaces, for better or for worse. I believe that we don't have to opt for one of the two production methods but that we must clarify at both the theoretical and practical levels, their different, reciprocal functions. Groups, large and small, along with the many individual artists, are not the only positive new feature of the recent Italian theatre, but they are certainly the least known. Perhaps this is because they don't appear to be a trend. In fact they signal the end of trends and movements: every "important" group is the leader of a non-existent school and every piece of work achieves its own debt-free uniqueness. [See "Benvenuto: New York-Italy," PAJ 24.] This change is concrete, that is, it anticipates theoretical formulas and demands a different reading and interpretation than the theatre we were accustomed to in the past. If labels such as "Third Theatre" or "Post Avantgarde " have failed, showing themselves to be honest but outmoded exercises of power on the part of the militant critics, and if likewise any such attempt to extrapolate trends from a phenomenon so heterogeneous is bound to fail, one might ask what criteria one can use to judge such theatres. Is there a particular language in which they express themselves? Is there something which links groups such as the Teatro della Valdoca to Gaia Scienza, Krypton to Santagata & Morganti, Padiglione Italya to Studio 3? One thing makes them part of the essence of theatre: the acceptance of that invariable that is the stage. In truth, the presentation of a here and now by means of that inversion which transforms the many into one (the public) and the one (the actor) into many. There is something which distinguishes these groups from the mainstream: the understanding that they live at the end of a cycle (cultural and theatrical), the search...


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pp. 31-38
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